In year of boys cross-country parity, Caston’s Dague is RTC’s top runner
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The decision for the RTC Runner of the Year in boys cross-country was not easy.
Caston’s Austin Dague beat Winamac’s Kolbey Wegner at the Caston Invitational, at the New Prairie Invitational and the Culver Academy Invitational. Wegner beat Dague to win the Hoosier North title at Wegner’s home course at Winamac Town Park.
Wegner ran a 17:46 at the Logansport sectional. Dague ran a 17:47 at the Manchester sectional.
They met again at the Culver Academy regional, where Dague beat Wegner in a muddy quagmire. At the semistate, Wegner ran an impressive 17:31 while Dague seemingly got caught in a bottleneck of runners and ran a 17:54.
We’re going to give a very slight edge to Dague based on the fact that he beat Wegner more often in their head-to-head races.
Still, the fact that it was this close speaks to a larger issue of parity in our area among our boys striders.
Rochester was our top area team this year. They won the Three Rivers Conference title and were the only area team to qualify for semistate. But even they had three different frontrunners this season – Peyton Hiatt, Dylan Steininger and Chris Rohr.
So every week was a little different.
The following selections for the All-RTC boys cross-country team places extra emphasis on conference meets and the postseason. While we take full responsibility for this list, we thank area coaches for their time and insights, and we thank them for their help.
Austin Dague (Caston) (Runner of the Year) – Dague’s best time of the year wasn’t the 17:50 he ran at the Culver Academy regional, but we thought it was his most impressive performance given the terrible running conditions. He’s continuing the tradition of great runners in his family.
Kolbey Wegner (Winamac) – Wegner is a tough, strong runner who saved his best performance of the year for semistate. Like Dague, he also comes from a running family.
Peyton Hiatt (Rochester) – The top area runner at the New Prairie semistate wasn’t Dague or Wegner but rather Hiatt. He was running his best by the end of the season after a slow start.
Dylan Steininger (Rochester) – Steininger, a Grace College recruit, made the all-TRC team and, save for the regional where everybody’s time was slow because of the mud, was consistently between 17:25 and 17:45 practically all season.
Chris Rohr (Rochester) – Rohr won the Zebra Invitational at the start of the season and finished sixth at the conference race. He ran a fine 17:52 at semistate.
Jackson Baker (Pioneer) – Baker was a powerful runner who finished behind only Wegner and Dague at the conference meet.
Leighton Dodt (Pioneer) – Dodt was the area’s top freshman runner. He’s already broken 18 minutes and has a strong future ahead of him.
Wes Steininger (Rochester) – Wes Steininger had two eye-opening performances in October – an 18:12 at the TRC meet at Tippecanoe Valley that earned him a spot on the all-conference team and an 18:10 at the semistate.
Cristian Cardenas (Winamac) – Cardenas was an all-conference runner on a conference championship team and also broke 18 minutes while simultaneously playing soccer.
Adrian Ochoa (Rochester) – Ochoa ran an 18:57 at the semistate, and that is reason for thinking he has a bright future. So many freshmen run out of gas as the season winds down, but Ochoa seemingly got a second win. This was a very close call over Jack Cooper.
Jack Cooper (Pioneer)
Austin Brooke (Pioneer)
Isaac Whetstone (Tippecanoe Valley)
Destin Green (Culver)
Caleb Stinson (Caston)
Tyler Tankersley (Winamac)
Marshall Finke (Caston)
Carson Meyer (Pioneer)
Reece Johnson (Rochester)
Evan Myers (Tippecanoe Valley)
RTC Runner of the Year Austin Dague